Officer Junior Football Club has kickstarted its 2021 season with innovative ways to get kids back into football.
With the loss of football due to the worldwide Covid-19 pandemic, local clubs have reported drops in registration numbers and difficulty recruiting younger footballers with no Auskick program in 2020.
One local junior football club, though, is already on the ball.
The Officer Junior Football Club held its Jumpstart program on Thursday 18 February for boys and girls to come and try or get back into football.
Developed by club football operations manager, Jayson Dorey, the Jumpstart program provides two free one-hour football training sessions for boys and girls aged seven to nine years.
Mr Dorey told the Gazette the program “introduces the fundamental skills of football, getting into a team environment and is all about having fun”.
While there was a mix of children who had participated in the clubs Auskick program from the age of five, other children were new to the club, one thing was certain, the Jumpstart program was a hit.
“It’s great to see the kids smiling and having fun and parents proudly watching their little ones,” Mr Dorey said.
On Sunday 21 February, the club again showed itself as a leader in player development with the first of four sessions of the Parklea Officer Junior Football Club Academy program for 2021 for children in the under 11 to under 17 age groups.
The Academy program, in its fourth year, is updated each season, and run by experienced coaches within the club who are also involved in AFL Next Generation Academies and VFLW programs, ensuring the training offered to players is the most up to date and best for player development.
President Shayne Honey explained the junior football club is driven by developing their players and coaches.
“Not every child is going to play top level AFL or win a premiership, so we want our players to be the best they can be, get a kick in a game and enjoy what they’re doing” he said.
“Development should be the focus in junior football and that also extends to making sure our coaches are getting the right development to pass onto their teams. The academy program covers fundamental skills education and game style drills and education.”
The academy program is open to all club players at no charge, with the under eights to 10s academy to be held in March.
The club, celebrating its 20th year, provided all players with a commemorative 20-year t-shirt.
“The club has built a great culture in 20 years, recognised as a great family club for kids of all abilities, now we’re improving everyone’s abilities via our dedicated development program and further growing an amazing culture,” Mr Honey said.
The Jumpstart and academy sessions were run within Covid-19 protocols, with QR codes being required to sign in for contact tracing, adding to the achievement of the club in getting the sessions up and running.
To attend the Jumpstart session on Thursday 25 February or to join the club and be part of the club academy, email firstname.lastname@example.org.